books, movies

The Disaster Artist – film 

I really enjoyed the book:

The Disaster Artist by Sestero & Bissell

Finally saw the 2017 American biographical comedy-drama movie. Also excellent.

The film chronicles an unlikely friendship between budding actors Tommy Wiseau and Sestero that results in the production of Wiseau’s 2003 film The Room, widely considered one of the worst films ever made

The Disaster Artist stars brothers James and Dave Franco as Wiseau and Sestero, respectively …


Casting couldn’t have been better.


State of Terror by Clinton and Louise Penny

I was surprised to enjoy the two books by Bill Clinton and James Patterson;

The President is Missing

The President’s Daughter

How does Hillary Clinton’s book compare?

State of Terror

No doubt Canadian mystery novelist Louise Penny did most of the writing.

But it must have been Hillary who included Putin (here called Ivanov) and a former President golfer (here called “Eric Dunn”). She and Bill are Washington super-insiders. They know how it works.

In my opinion, this book is not as good as either of the Bill Clinton collaboration. Those were more fun.

It was FUN to see Louise Penny’s character Chief Inspector Armand Gamache from Quebec make an appearance.

And it was important to hear a screed against Washington misogyny. Hillary knows better than anyone how much harder it is to be a woman in politics.

In any case, this book is getting great reviews. Selling by the truckload. But it didn’t really work for me.

movies, music

MUSICAL – In the Heights

Mike recommended a terrific film musical, produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame. 

In The Heights

Based on the stage musical of the same name, the film tells the story of a corner in the predominantly Dominican Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City, where every member of the community pursues their dreams of a better life.

Corey Hawkins is my favourite. I got to like him first in 24: Legacy.

All tracks are written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Plenty of smart rap lyrics.

I love how it’s cut like a YouTube video.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Unfortunately, it was a box office bomb, grossing just $43 million against its $55 million budget and $200 million break-even point, though it was successful on HBO Max. Hopefully the success of the new West Side Story will motivate folks to check this out, as well.

It’s long at 143 minutes. Too long, I’d say.

YET I highly recommend you watch it. Fast forward through any slow sections. On review aggregator website Rotten TomatoesIn the Heights holds an approval rating of 94% based on 351 reviews with an average rating of 8.3/10.


Agatha Christie’s 1st novel

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a detective novel by British writer Agatha Christie. It was written in the middle of the First World War, in 1916, and first published 1920. … (For £25. After all, she was only a woman 😀)

It introduced Hercule Poirot

… was well received by reviewers in the UK and the US at initial publication. …

Agatha was influenced by the Sherlock Holmes books, for sure. Narrator Hastings – Poirot’s friend, really reminded me of Watson. Like Watson, he was injured in the war.

This book is skillfully written. I enjoyed it.

Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling fiction writer of all time, her novels having sold more than two billion copies.

In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America‘s Grand Master Award.

Art and beauty, travel

Visiting the Prado

Mike Sisson’s favourite work in the Prado Museum, Madrid, is Las Meninas (‘The Ladies-in-waiting‘) by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age.

It’s one of the most widely analyzed works in Western painting.

5-year-old Infanta Margaret Theresa is surrounded by her entourage. The artist is stage left. I like how the entire top half of the painting is wall and ceiling. 😀

Margaret Theresa died age-21.

For some reason, the painting below by Antonio Fabrés jumped out at me.
The Slave Girl. Of course it seems to more be his  erotic fantasy — not anything to do with slavery.

El Greco moved to Toledo, Spain in 1577. So different than anything that had come before that he’s considered unique. Imaginative, colourful and … weird. So different than the endless portraits and dark religious paintings of the day.

Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta caught my eye.

The model for nearly all of the female figures in his genre paintings was Aline Masson, the daughter of the doorman at the Paris residence of the Marqués de Casa Riera.

Art and beauty

Immersive Van Gogh

I finally saw one of the many touring Van Gogh shows.

It cost $40 for a 33 minute presentation which I watched twice.

Impressionists and post-Impressionists are my favourites. Van Gogh in particular.

That said, I wouldn’t go again. BUT a 3D virtual reality wearing a headset would be cool, I would think.

Toronto December 2021

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.


The Lewis Man by Peter May

Peter May is a great writer.

And The Lewis Man is an excellent book. Though a sequel, I found it quite different than The Blackhouse, 1st in the series.

Fin Macleod has returned to the Isle of Lewis, the storm-tossed, wind-scoured outer Hebridean island where he was born and raised.

Having left behind his adult life in Edinburgh – including his wife and his career in the police force – the former Detective Inspector is intent on repairing past relationships and restoring his parents’ derelict cottage.

His plans are interrupted when an unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog. The only clue to its identity is a DNA match to a local farmer, the now-senile Tormod Macdonald – the father of Fin’s childhood sweetheart, Marsaili – a man who has claimed throughout his life to be an only child, practically an orphan. Reluctantly drawn into the investigation, Fin uncovers deep family secrets even as he draws closer to the killer who wishes to keep them hidden. …


The Judge’s List by John Grisham

The Judge’s List builds on characters introduced in Grisham’s 2016 novel The Whistler, including Florida Board on Judicial Conduct investigator Lacy Stoltz.

It’s Grisham so it’s good.

Suspicions are easy enough, but proof seems impossible. The man is brilliant, patient, and always one step ahead of law enforcement. He is the most cunning of all serial killers. He knows forensics, police procedure, and most important: he knows the law.

He is a judge, in Florida—under Lacy’s jurisdiction. …

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Art and beauty, friends

Mike Sissons – Artist

Mike — originally from New Brunswick — has lived around the world. Speaks 5-6 languages. Started as a gymnast and coach. Moved into teaching Physical Education.

But is today an Art teacher at a private school in Madrid.

He lives in the neighbourhood of the major Art museums.

Mike and I have been friends for decades. I really enjoyed a recent chance to visit. Catching up on his philosophical world view and recent Art. He’s currently exploring painting on stained metal. One example:

He’s still sculpting, as well.

Mike works a lot in digital media with his kids at school.

Recently he did some commercial work — major art pieces for Cruise Ships under construction now.

Check his Instagram: sissonsart.